Broadcast review workshop

I hosted a workshop yesterday at the OU on the broadcast strategy, looking at how it relates to courses and pedagogy. A couple of things that came out:

i) I’ve been saying for a while that the boundary between content and technology has become blurred. I became more convinced of this today. Would you regard Google as a technology or a content company? This has implications for what we (the OU) think of as broadcast – it is as much about developing a tool as commissioning a piece of content.

ii) The whole long tail phenomenon is relevant here. The traditional broadcast model relies on a lot of people consuming the same thing, but as broadcast is reshaped by the net, it is more about a few people consuming a wider range of resources. There is an obvious trade-off here with the production quality of that resource and the applicability to you as an individual.

iii) The OU has partly defined itself by its relationship with broadcast – in many ways the personality of the institution was embodied in broadcast programmes and summer schools. The latter have declined dramatically and the former has undergone a serious change because of the internet. I think this is an exciting time to be around and shaping a new personality, but not everyone will feel the same.

iv) The traditional broadcast (and to an extent educational) model is built on a hierarchical, centralised relationship with one to many information. Much of internet activity is built around one to one, or one to some, interaction and is a more dynamic, interactive medium. In addition the web 2.0 developments have emphasised the democratisation of tools and content, with users adapting and creating their own resources. As well as utilising such technologies institutions that have been constructed around a hierarchical model need to rethink many of their practices, for instance a VLE is very much an institutional response to e-learning, but it may not be the only, or the best way, to meet the needs of learners.

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